We often discuss the tragic car accidents that drunk driving can lead to, but plenty of crashes are also caused by operating a boat while intoxicated. In many ways, boating under the influence is even more dangerous because controlling a motorized vessel after drinking can be more difficult than driving a car, and many boaters overestimate their ability to see other watercraft and steer away from them in time.
Most states have laws prohibiting boating under the influence that are similar to DUI laws. Ironically, a Maryland lawmaker has been accused of breaking one of the laws his government established. The state representative was driving a boat earlier this week when it crashed into another vessel carrying several children. The youngest, a 5-year-old girl, had to be taken to a hospital by helicopter and was still recovering as of Thursday.
Not long after investigators said they suspected alcohol contributed to the accident, the 54-year-old legislator from Anne Arundel released a public statement saying that he’d been drinking before the crash. Appearing in front of reporters while sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace, he apologized for his actions, asked for forgiveness and said that his blood alcohol level at the time was .2, more than twice the legal driving limit for operating a car or a boat.
A sergeant with the Maryland Natural Resources Police, which patrols the Magothy River where the accident happened, said he wasn’t sure where the representative got his blood alcohol level information, considering the official blood test results wouldn’t be available for at least two weeks. But the lawmaker’s public announcement of his drunkenness may contribute to any civil personal injury lawsuits the children’s families choose to file. When a person openly acknowledges such negligence, much of the burden of proof is lifted off personal injury plaintiffs hoping to recover damages they suffered in an accident.
Source: The Washington Post, “Md. lawmaker was drinking before boat crash that injured 4 children,” Aaron C. Davis, Aug. 23, 2012
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